by Amy Wicks
Getty ImagesNo one tells it like it is in the fashion business quite like Simon Doonan, the creative ambassador for Barneys New York.
Simon, a prolific (and brilliantly hilarious) writer of several books (including one that became a BBC TV series) and former columnist for the New York Observer, has no shortage of fun, informative and often belly laugh-inducing tales that give us a glimpse into his colorful life in fashion and retail with his real-life stories of "glamorous madness and stylish insanity."
Lucky for us, Simon hasn't put the pen down yet. He has a rom-com of a memoir, The Asylum, which will be on sale starting Tuesday. I call it a rom-com, because his book not only celebrates the foibles of the fashion biz but also, he describes it as a love letter to the industry.
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I spoke to Simon this morning on a wide-range of fashion-related topics, from what he REALLY thinks about fashion trends to his love of street style and his advice on how to get a career in fashion.
On Trends: I would tell shoppers not to worry about the zeitgeist. For example, 10 years ago leopard print was actually a trend. It was seen on the runway from designers such as Lanvin. Since then, it has just stayed around. I wouldn't say it's a trend again today. I would say the emphasis has shifted to the individual and it isn't so much about following trends. It's a great time for self expression.
On the Current State of Fashion: The fashion world has become this big soup of things that go into it but things don't really go out. Just find a look you love and go with it. Maybe it's Western, or a sexy secretary or goth. The great thing is, stores have all of this.
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On Street Style: I love street style. The clothes at the shows have become somewhat repetitive and there aren't these seismic bursts of change. So, it's kind of fun to have a Mardi Gras scene outside the shows. It's a welcome bit of entertainment! I'm hugely grateful for it.
On Working For the Legendary Diana Vreeland: She was a very validating person. You would think she was conventional, working at such large magazines, but she was the opposite. She was the patron saint of creativity and taught me that it's absolutely necessary to be unconventional. It's the foundation of fashion for me.
On How to Break Into The Fashion Biz: My advice is to get a job in retail. Some people think you have to work for a major magazine or big designer like Alber Elbaz [at Lanvin] but there are a million ways to get involved in fashion. I started at a local department store in a rinky dink town outside London. I started on the sales floor, and then got into display. Later, advertising and marketing and special events. Retail can give you an incredible career. There's nothing wrong with starting as a shop girl.
If you liked what Simon had to say about the fashion biz, check out this new book on Tuesday. I think it's the perfect back-to-school present, especially for the girl who is thinking about a career in the industry.
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by Amy Wicks